Volume 4 Number 4-5 …………………….. April-May 1934
Hitler’s Program by Leon Trotsky
Pacifism—Red, Yellow and White by Vera Buch
The Youth Conference of the Fourth International by Fred Browner
Pseudo—Communist Intellectuals by Albert Weisbord
Also: “The End of the C.W.A.”, “The Yaroslavl Cow”, “The Free Speech Fight in Passaic”
THE END OF THE C.W.A.
With the greatest brazenness and impudence, the federal government has decided to cut out the C.W.A work. The figures were revealed that with all the ballyhoo of the administration, the entire fund spent by the C.W.A. was $750,000,000 in wages and $250,000,000 in material. Thus, of the 20,000,000 workers or so who must be looking for work in the U. S. at this time, only 4,000,000 were actually placed on the work list, each one received on an average between $200 to $250 during the entire period.
Now even this miserable sum is cut down by three-quarters. If the federal government spent $60,000,000 a month, now it intends to spend $15,000,000 and to cut down the number of workers on its list from one-half to two-thirds. Thus only one-tenth of the population looking for work will be given jobs by the government. And what jobs! If before they got 50 cents an hour for 30 hours a week, now they will get 30 cents an hour for 24 hours work or the grand total of $7.20 a week. This is the next development of Roosevelt’s wage policy. It is no longer a dollar, a-day and board. It is simply a dollar-a-day. It is the old dole but incorporated with it now is the open regimentation and militarization of labor, forerunner of fascist labor discipline. Nor is there an alleviation of the crisis in sight. The future looks as black as the past.
As under Czaristic Russia during the famines, so under the Roosevelt regime during unemployment, the official attitude is “there is no hunger". The fact is that a great mass of people have reached the level of destitution. Their reserve supply is completely gone. They live from day to day, from hand to mouth. And now with the sudden increase in the cost of living, with the drastically low wages and the abolition of strikes under the codes, their standards have been reduced to such a low level as to reach the breaking point.
The Minneapolis affair in which the unemployed fought with the police over the question of immediate relief without investigation for those let down by the C.W.A., for an increase in rations, etc., is of the greatest importance to us. It shows that the masses are losing their patience, the old illusions are disappearing. With correct working class American instinct, they are taking to direct action. And let us not forget that Minneapolis is a city of American workers, closely connected with the farmers in the region and forming part of what has been called the backbone of the native American population. How tremendous that the bread riots start in Minneapolis, queen city of the richest wheat city perhaps in the world! From the Minneapolis affair we can gather how correct we were in stressing the fact that the present period in American life is one of sudden and violent political fluctuations, that the masses are restive, that the program for the unemployed must be guided towards direct action and not in the old line of the unemployed movements in the past. Is it not significant that the masses defeated the police, hurled back the tear gas bombs into their faces, drove them back into the public buildings and then with the tear gas bombs forced them out of the building again? And the final point to remember is that the masses won their demands!
Minneapolis shows us that the end of the C.W.A. is the end of a whole period of illusions. The pseudo, liberalism of the Roosevelt New Deal is dropping away and the teeth of fascism appear more and more openly. The C.W.A. was an attempt to revive the old theories that there is work for all, that opportunity still remains in America, that there are no classes, etc. The end of the C.W.A. throws all these traditional tricks to the ground.
The American proletariat is the most cultured proletariat in the world. If culture is based upon technique, as it is, then the superior technique in industry of the American workingclass is ample proof of this. Certainly, in the U. S., there is a gap between the worker’s technical knowledge and his political knowledge. But if, for divers reasons, the American workers have been backward in political knowledge, once they are started on the road they will march with seven-league boots. As they have done in technology so will they in politics, “overtake and surpass” Europe.
The demand for unemployment and other social insurance is becoming more and more irresistible and, with the close of the C.W.A., will rise tremendously in volume. But this demand for unemployment insurance is precisely the appreciation by the American workers that there are classes in America, that to be out of work is not a disgrace but a permanent condition, that the door of opportunity has been closed forever. The enormous significance of this is that this most cultured proletariat, once on the road of political science, will quickly follow the argument to the very end. Once it sees that it really is a class and there is a class struggle, it will move along the revolutionary path fast enough. And here is why the government can not easily yield to the demand for social or unemployment insurance.
Will there come adequate unemployment insurance? How can there be any adequate system of unemployment insurance established? Unemployment insurance is possible in the 19th century in countries whose capitalism is expanding and where the army of unemployed is comparatively small, but it is possible in 1934 when the army of permanently disemployed runs into the many millions? The rise of fascism shows us that in the present period even social reform is receding and can be obtained only as a by product of revolution. An adequate system of unemployment insurance would break the strongest capitalist country at the present time. Fascism, rather than such a system of unemployment insurance, that is the more likely perspective. And that is why we must fight for unemployment insurance because through this fight we will have to complete the struggle for bread with a struggle for political power itself. This is why the only method of struggling for unemployment insurance conceivable to Communists is the revolutionary method, i.e. the one which combines social reform with revolution.
The various communist groups do not show the slightest comprehension of the dialectics of the problem. All of them, for example support the Lundeen Unemployment Insurance Bill (H. R. 7598). Indeed the Communist Party has reprinted this hill by the hundreds of thousands and has merely added this note:
“The Workers Bill (H. R. 7598) differs from the original draft as sponsored by numerous workers’ organizations in the following respects: It does not provide for the use of war funds for Unemployment and Social Insurance: and it does not specifically state that workers shall be entitled to benefits irrespective of citizenship. Aside from these very important omissions, the Bill, as above presented, embodies all the essential principles of genuine social insurance and should therefore be given full support.”
“Full Support!” But the Bill declares that the pay should be but $10 a week. It does not declare when the insurance should start and for how long. It has very ambiguous proposals on whether a man may be compelled to work when others have refused to work because of the low rate of pay. And finally, and what is indeed the most treacherous point, the Bill declares: “Such insurance shall be administered by workers and farmers and controlled by them under rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor in conformity with the purposes and provisions of this Act, through unemployment insurance commissions composed of the rank and file members of workers’ and farmers’ organizations.”
This means that the Secretary of Labor will have the authority to go into every workers organization to supervise its elections and to make sure that only “rant and file” are elected. Should any officer or leader of any union be elected, the Secretary would have to disqualify him. To such lengths has the mad “united front from below” policy driven the Communist Party. And these “workers commissions” are to be part of the State apparatus. They are to be part of the state machinery. They are to be tied up with the Secretary of Labor and all the stool-pigeons and strikebreakers of his office. Is it not plain as day that the Communist Party, through the Lundeen Bill, is preparing the way for Fascism by trying to harness the workers organizations to the official capitalist state machinery which is used against the workers? Is it not clear that this treacherous “Communist” Party far from throwing the masses against the government and the state, is betraying the workers to the state?
It is the duty of the workers, while advocating unemployment and social insurance and while setting up workers’ organizations that will undertake a control over funds given out by the administration without taking responsibility for the acts of the Government to smash these features of the Lundeen Bill and all such fake opportunist measures and the “communist” organizations which support it.
THE YAROSLAVL COW
It is Manuilsky who speaks. It is at the 13th plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The subject is Revolutionary Crisis, Fascism and War. The listeners are rather downcast. They have heard that fascism has been victorious in Germany, the key country of Europe, and even these callous bureaucrats at the “plenum” are beginning to feel that something is wrong. The once so powerful German Communist Party is now no more and even the leadership of this party, Remmelle and Neumann, has been denounced and condemned. Only Thaelmann has been spared, and that, perhaps, because he is yet behind prison bars. How to save the day for Stalin (loud applause) whose policies have proven so disastrous? Up jumps the bumpkin Manuilsky. He will save the day.
Growing indignant he first declares that it is false to say that fascism is advancing. No, it is the revolution that is advancing. It is not true that the German Communist Party is crushed, it is stronger than ever. It is not true that the German party made mistakes. There was no mistake because in the German Party leadership there were only agents of Stalin (loud applause) and Stalin (loud applause) is infallible. But while the leadership is infallible, yet Remmelle and Neuman are counterrevolutionary and must be ousted. Poor Manuilsky! Not to know the difference between revolution and counterrevolution; so that Hitler’s victory appears as Communism’s gain.
But Manuuilsky feels that be has not yet saved the day. He must rise to still greater heights of revolutionary dialectics. He stamps his foot and exclaims, what if fascism is gaining in Europe, are we not gaining enormous successes in China, and Russia? What is Germany compared to China? Can not the Communists well afford to lose Germany, for did not the Communist Party of China gain 100,000 new members last year and is not the Chinese Soviet growing in power daily? Alas, provincial Asiatic, you will not be able to convince any worker that the peasant Soviets in China can counter-balance the loss of Communism in Germany. No amount of Red Herrings about China, Russia, Africa or what not will make us forget your crimes. And would that there was the slightest truth of the imminence of Communism in China. But here too you commit a fraud upon the world proletariat.
Evidently China does not cause the functionaries present to get enthusiastic. Too many are Europeans. Manuilsky then plays his trump card—Russia. Look he shouts, Look at the great Communist triumphs in Russia. Russia is worth more than the whole rest of the world put together. We are building Socialism in our country, why worry about Europe? Says Manuilsky:
“And what is happening in the U.S.S.R.? Our leader, our teacher, our tried and trusted battle-leader and great strategist of the world proletarian revolution, Comrade Stalin (loud applause) has told the Party and the country of the toilers that this year must be the last year of our difficulties…. At the present time we are working at pig breeding, and putting into this task all our revolutionary ardor, Bolshevik vigor, all the flaming energy of former fighters on the front of the civil war, Next spring we will develop poultry breeding on a mass scale, knowing that the world revolutionary crisis is hatching in the Soviet Egg; during the next two years we will increase the quantity of cattle and we are convinced that the Soviet Yaroslavl cow will gore not only fascism but the whole of world capitalism.” (See ECCI pamphlets on the 13th Plenum, speech by Manuilsky, p. 23).
Is this not delicious humor? Seven years ago, perhaps, Manuilsky could be treated as a tragedy. Then we all thought the Comintern worth while. But now Manuilsky can be only a joke. Just think, Stalin (loud applause) has ordered all contradictions to cease next year. So of course they will cease! But we wonder why Stalin did not issue his decree before? Is Stalin himself counter revolutionary that he is delaying the end of contradiction in Russia?
Looking at his audience, Manuilsky lets himself be carried away with pigs, chickens and cows. The Bolsheviks are going into pig breeding with all the ardor and flame of civil war. Is this because at the end of the Five Year Plan there is one half the number of pigs, sheep, poultry, cattle and horses than there was before, in 1928? Is this because there is such a food shortage that the workers in the city are forced to dig their own gardens, to keep their own pigs and rabbits, in order to guarantee themselves food? Far from it. The real reason is that the more German Communists are killed, the more pigs must be bred in Russia to counterbalance. It is all very clear. One Communist Party member killed in Germany, one more pig in Russia. So everything is made even, and as Manuilsky would say, even made better. For what is better than a Russian pig? In fact the German Communist Party was sacrificed for the Russian pig. And “no mistake was made.”
After the Russian pig there will come the chickens. We must not forget the chickens. Pork chops are for workers, but chicken is for the bureaucracy itself. How can you compare the two? Yes indeed, chicken is a higher stage of socialism than pig. The world soviet is to be hatched out of the Russian chicken. What a magician is Manuilsky! To pull rabbits out of a hat is nothing compared to hatching soviets out of eggs. Not even the Gallic cock (symbol of the French Revolution) can compare with the Bolshevik ardor of Manuilsky in fertilizing the Russian chickens so that they will lay many eggs (i.e. Soviets). But is there not a danger that it will be China eggs the hens under his expert guidance will produce?
But the fundamental victory of world communism after all lies not in the Russian pig, nor the Manuilsky egg; it lies in the Yaroslavl cow, which with its horns will gore fascism to pieces, and its hoofs will tear down the capitalism of the United States. As Ghengis Khan, who used his cattle to throw the enemy into confusion and then followed with his own army to destroy them, so with the Soviet Yaroslavl cow. But will the army be there to pursue in this case?
Soviet Russian has indeed become a cow in the eyes of the bureaucrat sucking hard at its teets. But do not suck too hard, Manuilsky. The cow may kick!
THE FREE SPEECH FIGHT IN PASSAIC
For the past month we’ve done our best to begin work in Passaic. The police at first answered with the statement that never would Weisbord speak there again. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union a smashing meeting was held for free speech for us. Roger N. Baldwin, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Norman Thomas of the League for Industrial Democracy, Justice Wise Tulin, and Abraham Isserman attorneys, and Vera Buch of the Communist League of Struggle were scheduled to speak and over 500 workers turned out to cheer the return of the old Passaic organizers. Injunction proceedings were threatened the city officials and they were forced to back down.
On April 12th a new meeting was scheduled, this time with Comrade Weisbord as the main speaker on the subject “A Militant Program for the Workers". The police consented to allow the meeting but warned us that they were in receipt of information that Weisbord would be bumped off, that they would not protect the meeting and that the responsibility was upon our own shoulders. Of course this was giving a free hand to the paid gangsters of the big corporations in and around Passaic who have a hysterical fear that we will organize the workers.
In spite of all the threats of the employers the meeting was held. And what a fine meeting it was. Over 600 workers jammed every inch of the space in the hall. Comrade Weisbord was most enthusiastically received. He pointed out that no terror of the employers would prevent the Passaic Valley Organization Committee from coming in to organize the unorganized, to build unions and to make them militant, and to bind all workers organizations into one solid united front to fight for better conditions and against the rise of Fascism threatening the workingclass.
We shall report the developments from time to time in the Class Struggle. We ask all our friends to help us in our work
HITLER’S PROGRAM by Leon Trotsky
Hittler has been widely regarded as a demagogue, a hysterical person, and a comedian. Such opinions are the reflections of a diplomacy incapable of vision or understanding save in the most ordinary routine matters. To attempt to appraise the present German political revolution with the rule-of-thumb methods of diplomacy is not only ludicrous; it is fraught with peril. It takes more than hysteria to seize power, and method there must be in the Nazi madness. Woe to those who do not awaken to this fact in time! The leaders of German labor refused to take Hitler seriously, they dismissed his program as an impossible blend of reaction and utopia. Today, as a result of their ghastly mistake, their organizations have been shattered to bits. What will happen if this mistake is repeated in the field of world politics?
On May 17 Hitler replied to Roosevelt and the powers in his peace speech to the Reichstag. Up to that time many thought that Hitler would violently attack the Versailles treaty, attempting to deal with Europe as he had done with the Reichstag building, Marxian literature, and the Jewish department stores. Nobody really knew where the lightning would come from and where it would strike. Would anyone have predicted twenty four hours in advance the crushing of the trade unions according to all the rules of a gangster assault upon a bank? What was to be expected now? Then, of a sudden, the cooing of a dove.
Hitler’s speech in the Reichstag staggered everybody with its unexpected pacifism, and so attained its most immediate aim. It is always advantageous to take an opponent by surprise. Hitler there developed his first success and fairly embarrassed his adversaries. Highly experienced diplomats allowed themselves to be at least halfway assuaged by a few well calculated pacific sentences, after they had been frightened to death by Papen’s blood and iron shouting. John Simon gratefully noted in the Chancellor’s speech the moderate tone of a statesman. So did Austen Chamberlain. Contrasting Hitler to Papen, the Morning Post discovered in the declaration the “soft accent of the South,” and the entire press declared that the whole atmosphere had suddenly become less tense. At the same time they analyzed and explained these unexpected soft accents in something like these terms: the shrewd diplomat Mussolini had brought Hitler to reason, the pressure from Washington had doubtlessly not been without influence, and consequently the chances of the disarmament policy had manifestly improved. What a flagrant blunder! The psychological secret of the hubbub is simple: whoever expects to meet a madman brandishing an axe and encounters instead a man with a Browning hidden in his hip pocket cannot fail to experience a feeling of relief. But that does not prevent the Browning from being more dangerous than the axe.
There is no lack, on the other hand, of distrustful people who see in Hitlers declaration only an episodic maneuver occasioned by the unfavorable echo to the speech of Papen: it is enough, at least for a few weeks, to deceive public opinion, and then one will see. An all too simple explanation! The menacing harangue of Lord Hailsham provoked by the speech of Papen may, it is true, have served as the impulsion to Hitler’s intervention. But all this relates to the order and to the tone of political declarations; that is, it touches only the technical side. Behind the diplomatic fencing, however, are concealed much deeper factors and plans. It would be just as false to take Hitler’s pacifism at its word as it would be to dismiss the declaration of a “demagogue” without penetrating into its sense. The political problem consists in establishing the inner relationships between Hitler’s declaration and his real plans, that is, to try to understand by what ways Fascist Germany hopes to attain those ends which it cannot and will not name. The past must already have adequately shown that if there is fantasy and delirium in the policy of National-Socialism, this does not mean that Hitter is incapable of weighing realities: his fantasy and delirium are in expedient conformity with his real political aims. That is our point of departure in the appraisal of the internal as well as the foreign policy of National-Socialism.
The guiding philosophical and historical ideas in Hitter’s disarmament speech are truly pitiful in their pretentious mediocrity. The idea proclaimed by Hitter of the necessity of re-adapting the state frontiers of Europe to the frontiers of its races is one of those reactionary utopias with which the National-Socialist program is stuffed. Present-day Europe is decomposing economically and culturally not because its national frontiers are imperfect but because the old continent is cut up in every direction by customs prison walls, separated by the disorder of inflated monetary systems, and crushed by the militarism which Europe requires to insure its dismemberment and its decadence. A shifting of the internal frontiers by a few dozens or hundreds of miles in one direction or another would, without changing much of anything, involve a number of human victims exceeding the population of the disputed zone.
The assurances given by the National-Socialists that they renounce “Germanization” do not signify that they renounce conquests, for one of the central and most persistent ideas in their program is the occupation of vast territories in “the East” so that a strong German peasantry may be established there. It is not by accident that the pacifist declaration, raving suddenly and unexpectedly left the ground of the “ideal” separation of the races, warns in a half-threatening tone that the source of future conflicts may arise out of the “over-population of western Europe.” Hitler indicates only one way out of the over-population of Europe, primarily of Germany, and that is the East. When, lamenting the injustice of the German-Polish frontier, he declared that one could without difficulty find “in the East” the solution capable of satisfying alike the “claims of Poland” and the “legitimate rights of Germany” he simply had in mind the annexation of Soviet territories. The renunciation of Germanization signifies, in this connection, the principle of the privileged position of the Germanic “race” as the seignioral caste in the occupied territories. The Nazis are against assimilation but not against annexation. They prefer the extermination of the conquered “inferior” peoples to their Germanization. For the time being, fortunately, this is only a matter of hypothetical conquests.
When Hitler asserts with indignation that the great German people has been transformed into a second-class nation, and that this conflicts with the interests of international solidarity and the principle of equal rights for all peoples he is simply talking for effect. The whole historical philosophy of National Socialism proceeds from the supposedly fundamental inequality of nations and the right of the “superior” races to trample upon and to extirpate the “inferior” races. Needless to say, the Germans occupy a preeminent place among these superior peoples. Taken as a whole, the Hitler program for the reconstruction of Europe is a reactionary-utopian medley of racial mysticism and national cannibalism. It is not hard to submit it to an annihilating criticism. However, the realization of this program is not the first aim of the Fascist dictatorship, but rather the reestablishment of the military power of Germany. Without this it is impossible to talk of any program whatsoever. It is only from this standpoint that Hitler’s disarmament speech offers any interest whatever.
Hitler’s program is the program of German capitalism, aggressive but bound hand and foot by Versailles and the results of the World War. This combination of potential strength and actual weakness accounts for the exceedingly explosive character of the aims of National Socialism and explains the extreme prudence of the most immediate steps towards the attainment of these aims. Hitler may speak today of loosening and gradually untying the knots, but not of cutting them asunder. Any revision of the treaties, especially of the system of armaments, would signify a change in the present relationship of forces: Germany would have to grow stronger, France weaker. Outside of this, the very question of revision has no meaning for Germany. On the other hand, it is quite clear that the rulers of France will accept no changes that would weaken its position to the benefit of Germany. That is why the Nazis regard as illusory and fantastic any policy calculated upon an improvement of the international position of Germany through agreement with France. It is from this conviction which, as will be seen farther on, runs through all the political activity of Hitler, that flows the inevitability of a new conflict between Germany and France. But not today, nor yet tomorrow. It is precisely this “correction” with regard to time that Hitler makes in his declaration and, in this sense, it is not a mere “deception.” When Goering set fire to the Reichstag he risked nothing but the heads of his agents. The premeditated firing of Europe is a more ticklish enterprise. In its present state Germany cannot make war. It is disarmed. This is no phrase; it is a fact. Bespectacled students and unemployed wearing a swastika band are no substitute for the Hohenzollern army. To be sure, here and there Hitler can partially violate the obligations dealing with armaments. But he will not resolve upon any open measures on a large scale which would involve him in a direct and flagrant conflict with the proscriptions of Versailles. Only some “fortunate” circumstances, in the form of complications between the heavily armed states of Europe, could permit National-Socialism to take drastic steps in foreign policy in the near future. In their absence, Hitler will be forced to confine himself to grand diplomatic combinations abroad and to petty military contraband at home.
The struggle of the Nazis in Austria and in Danzig does not, in spite of all its sharpness, conflict with the program of action outlined above. In the first Place, the growth of National-Socialism in Austria is an inevitable fact, especially after the victory in Germany. The reactions abroad against the Hitlerization of Austria will only strengthen the Fascist tide. In winning Austria from within, Hitler creates for himself a fairly important auxiliary support. The international complications that will grow out of it will not easily be reconciled with the Versailles Treaty. Hitler evidently knows that besides arguments out of a text, there can also be set up against his policy arguments of force. He must be able to beat a retreat in case of need and he will always have time for that, converting his positions in Austria and Danzig into money of exchange for international agreements.
Potential strength does not liberate Germany from her present weakness. If the Germany of the Hohenzollerns set itself the task of “organizing Europe” in order thereafter to undertake a new partition of the world, present-day Germany, thrown far back to the rear by the defeat, is forced to set itself once more those tasks which Bismarck’s Prussia solved long ago: the attainment of the European equilibrium as a stage in the unification of all the German territories. The practical program of Hitler today is bounded by the European horizon. The problems of continents and of oceans are beyond his field of vision and can be of practical concern to him only in so far as they are interwoven with the internal problems of Europe. Hitler speaks exclusively in defensive terms: this corresponds entirely to the stage through which renascent German militarism must pass. If the military rule—the best defensive is the offensive—is correct, then the diplomatic rule—the best preparation for the offensive is to take care of the defensive—is no less correct. In this sense, Brockdorf-Rantzau, who had a taste for paradox, told me in Moscow: Si vis bellum para pacem.
Hitler is counting upon the support of Italy and, within certain limits, this is assured him, not so much because their internal governments are similar—the purely German Third Reich is, as is known, a frankly Latin plagiarism—as because of the parallelism in many of their foreign aspirations. But with the Italian crutch alone, German imperialism will not rise to its feet. Only under the condition of support from England can Fascist Germany gain the necessary freedom of movement. Therefore, no adventures, no declarations which smack of adventure! Hitler understands that every blow against the West (a blow against Poland would rebound against the West) would promptly bring closer together England and France and would oblige Italy to show great caution, Every imprudent, premature, risky act of revenge politics would lead automatically to the isolation of Germany and—given its military impotence—to a new humiliating capitulation. The knots of the Versailles Treaty would be drawn still tighter. An agreement with England demands a self-limitation. But Paris—and Paris is just what is involved—is well worth a mass. Just as the agreement with Hindenburg, through the medium of Papen, permitted Hitler to accomplish him coup d’etat in the form of an interpretation of the Weimar Constitution, so an agreement with England, through the medium of Italy, is to permit Germany “legally” to ravage and to overthrow the Versailles Treaty. It is within this framework that the Chancellor’s pacifist declaration to the Reichstag on May 17 must be viewed. Hitler’s pacifism is not a fortuitous diplomatic improvisation, but a vital part of a grand maneuver which is to change radically the relationship of forces in favor of Germany and to lay the bases for the European and the world offensive of German imperialism.
However, this is but one part of Hitler’s program and only the negative part. To refrain from premature attempts at revenge is in essence the continuation of the Stresemann policy; it does not suffice to guarantee the active support of England. The declaration of May 17th contains a clear indication an the other, the positive, side of the Nazi program: the struggle against Bolshevism. This does not concern the dissolution of the German proletarian organizations but rather means war against the Soviet Union. In close connection with the program of the drive towards the East Hitler takes upon himself the protection of European civilization, of the Christian religion, of the British colonies, and other moral and material values, against Bolshevik barbarism. By assuming this crusade he hopes to obtain for Germany the right to arm itself. Hitler is convinced that on the scales of Great Britain the danger of German Fascism to western Europe weighs less than the danger of the Bolshevik Soviets in the East. This evaluation constitutes the most important key to the whole foreign policy of Hitler. The most important, but not the only one.
The National-Socialist dictatorship will not only play upon the contradiction between the West and the East, but also upon all the antagonisms of western Europe and there is no lack of them. In opposition to the resurrection of Austro-Hungary, Hitler pledges the special attention of Germany to the “young national states of Europe.” He seeks auxiliary levers to reestablish the European equilibrium, proposing to the small and feeble states to rally around the vanquished and not the victor. just as in its domestic policy National-Socialism has assembled under it banner the ruined and the desperate in order all the more surely to subject them to the interests of monopoly capital, so in his foreign policy Hitler will strive to create a united front of the vanquished and the injured in order all the more pitilessly to crush them in the future under the weight of German imperialism.
If Hitler has so eagerly accepted the English plan for armaments reduction, it is only because he counted in advance and with full certainty upon its failure. He did not need to take upon himself the odious role of the gravedigger of pacifist proposals; he prefers to leave that function to others. For the same reason Hitler is not niggardly with his “warm thanks” to the American President for his declaration in favor of armaments reduction. The more broadly and extensively the program of disarmament is presented before the whole world, and the more inevitably it ends in a collapse, the more incontestable will be Germany’s right to rearmament. No, Hitler is not preparing to overthrow Versailles by violence—for violence one must have power! But he is counting firmly upon the prospect that, after the failure of the British program which he “supports”, England, together with Italy, will support with all their might the right of Germany to strengthen its defense … against the East. Nothing but defense, and only against the East! A fortunate accident has supplied a political document of extraordinary value which makes much of this clear.
We refer to an “Open Letter” of Hitler to Papen, published in pamphlet form on October 16, 1932. Rather sharply controversial in tone, the “Letter” remained unnoticed outside of Germany. The leaders of National-Socialism talk and write too much! Still, it should have found a place on the table of every diplomat or journalist who occupies himself with the present-day foreign policy of Germany. Let us recall the political situation at the time when this pamphlet appeared. Papen was then Chancellor. Hitler was in expectant opposition—between August 13th, when Hindenburg refused to appoint him head of the government, and January 30th, when the Field Marshal was forced to yield the command of Germany to Hitler. The “Open Letter” was not intended for the masses, but for the ruling classes, and had as its aim to prove to them that the social regime of Germany could not be saved solely by bureaucratic methods; that only the National-Socialists had a serious program in foreign policy; finally, that he, Hitler, was as far removed from spineless resignation as he was from adventurism. The letter was anything but sensational, but on the contrary was a most sober document. Today, it may be assumed, Hitler would gladly burn his pamphlet in the furnace. All the more attentively should his adversaries examine it.
“It is absurd to think”, Hitler explained to Papen, “that the power which disarmed us, will today seriously also disarm itself without being forced to do so.” In other words, it is just as absurd to wait for France to agree some fine day or other to the rearmament of Germany. Its enormous military preponderance relieves France of the necessity of an entente with a vanquished foe on the basis of equality of rights. Any attempt to propose a military agreement to France in return for armaments will not only be very coldly received but will immediately be brought to the attention of the state against which it might be aimed: Hitler is alluding of course to the Soviet Union. It is possible for Germany to gain the right to arm itself only by means of “a genuine reestablishment of the European equilibrium.” England and Italy are interested in the realization of this goal, but in no case and under no conditions is France. “It is inconceivable to think that the lack of intimacy and of concordance with England and Italy can be made up for by the establishment of better relations with France!” The fundamental thesis of the foreign policy of Hitler, which dismisses as moribund the ideas, or if one prefers, the illusions of Locarno, leaves nothing to be desired in the way of clarity. In the declaration of May 17th we shall not of course find so clear an exposition. But the declaration in no way contradicts the “Open Letter”, on the contrary, it develops and applies its program for a definite stage.
The goal of German policy is the reestablishment of the military sovereignty of the state. Everything else is only a means thereto. But it is not at all necessary that the means be constructed in the image of the goal. Under no circumstances must Germany present itself to the world with a rearmament program of its own, even less so to this Disarmament Conference. For two reasons: no conference is able to adopt a decision which would radically change the material relationship of forces; the very demand for the right to armaments, while remaining a purely platonic demonstration, will nevertheless permit France to suppress the question of its own disarmament and, what is worse yet, bring England closer to France.
This latter result, according to Hitler, is already obtained to a certain degree as a result of the thoughtless policy of Papen. England is forced to support France much more than it wants to. It must be recognized that the criticism addressed by Hitter to the “Gentlemen’s Club” and to the Chancellor of the Reich himself as a dilettant and an adventurer, is not merely biting but also quite convincing. The “national” barons and bureaucrats have no foreign policy at all. The rattling of an inexistent weapon is dictated to them by domestic considerations: they are ready to utilize the nationalist movement while arresting at the same time its further growth. Undoubtedly taking his inspiration from Bismarck, Hitter does not recoil from a blow at the last Hohenzollern: Papen and his colleagues are only the inheritors and imitators of the theatrical policy of Wilhelm II, with this fundamental difference, that the Kaiser had a first class army, whereas they have only the memory of it. Hitler hits a bull’s eye here.
It is not hard, after this, to understand how badly mistaken was that part of the press and of diplomacy which sought to discover the real program of the present German government in the rhetoric of Papen on the peculiar charm of death on the field of battle. It must not be lost sight of that Papen, whom the Nazis during the brief period of his rule treated as a captain of the dragoons, feels himself among them like a man who is constantly on probation. On May 13th he adopted an unusually loud tone so as to put himself in harmony—but he was mistaken in his calculations. One may have his own opinion about the tastes of an elderly captain of the dragoons who, between taking a dose of Urodonal and drinking down a glass of Huniadi Janos water, propagates among young people the advantages of shrapnel over arteriosclerosis; but one thing is indisputable: behind Papen’s discourse is concealed no program. The “pacifism” of the present Chancellor is much more dangerous than the bellicose flights of the Vice-Chancellor.
In passing, we find the explanation for the sharp contradiction between Hitler’s declaration and the previous policy of Neurath, Nadolny, and others. Hitler became Chancellor at the cost of accepting a ministry of barons and privy councillors. The camarilla round Hindenburg consoles itself with the iidea of pursuing also its policy under Hitler. In all likelihood it is only the threatening repercussions abroad of Papen’s speech that gave Hitler the possibility of finally taking into his hands the helm of foreign policy. It is not Wilhelmstrasse which dictated the declaration of May 17th to the new Chancellor. On the contrary, it is Hitler who subdued the fantasies of the barons and the privy councillors of Wilhelmstrasse.
But let us return to the “Open Letter.” With unusual brusqueness it attacks the slogan launched by Papen on naval armament. Even if Germany had the means—and it hasn’t, the pamphlet declares—it would not be permitted to convert them into warships and it would be powerless to violate the prohibition. The slogan of military armament alone drove England to the side of France. There, says the pamphlet, you have the results “of your truly fatal leadership in foreign policy. Mr. von Papen!”
The struggle for the arming of Germany on sea and on land must be based upon a definite political idea. Hitler calls it by its name: the need of “strengthening the defense against the latent dangers of the East is comparatively easy to motivate.” Sympathy for such a program is guaranteed in advance on the part of “clear, visioned persons” in the West—obviously not in France. It is only from the standpoint of “the defense necessary for us in the East,” with regard to the Baltic Sea, that England can be persuaded to accept “corrections” also in the naval paragraphs of the Versailles Treaty. For it must not be forgotten that “at the present time it is important for the future of Germany to have an attitude full of confidence towards England.”
The German national movement can and should demand armament, but the German government must in no case expound this demand. Today it must insist only and exclusively upon the disarmament of the victors. Hitler considered it self-evident that the Disarmament Conference is condemned to failure. “There would be no need at all,” he wrote three months before his advent to power, “for the German delegation to participate interminably in the Geneva Disarmament comedy. It would suffice to expose clearly before the whole world the wish of France not to disarm for us thereupon to quit the Conference, stating that the peace of Versailles has been violated by the signatory powers themselves and that Germany must reserve for itself under these circumstances the drawing of the corresponding conclusions.”
The declaration of Hitler, as Chancellor, only serves to develop this melody. The refusal of the victors to disarm would signify the “final moral and real liquidation of the treaties themselves.” Germany would interpret such conduct as the desire “to remove it from the Conference.” In that case it would be hard for it “to continue to belong to the League of Nations.” Truly, the “Open Letter” is indispensable as the key to the strategy of Hitler!
The departure of Germany from the League of Nations would be accompanied by a disaffection between France, on the one hand, and England and the United States, on the other. The first preconditions would be created for the reestablishment of the “European equilibrium” in which Germany must occupy a growing place. With the concordance of Italy and England Hitler would acquire the possibility of rearming Germany, not by petty contraband measures but by big “corrections” in the Versailles Treaty. Parallel to this, would be developed the program of “defense” against the East. In this process a critical point must inevitably supervene: war. Against whom? Should the line against the East not prove to be the line of least resistance, the explosion might take place along a different direction. For if it is still possible to discuss to what degree offensive means are distinguished from defensive means, it is already beyond dispute that the military means suitable for the East are equally suitable for the West.
Hitler is preparing for war. His policy in the domain of economics is dictated primarily by concern over the maximum economic independence of Germany in case of war. To the aims of military preparation must also be subordinated the service of obligatory labor. But the very character of these measures indicates that it is not a question of tomorrow. An attack upon the West in the more or less immediate future could be carried out only on condition of a military alliance between Fascist Germany and the Soviets. But it is only the most turbulent sections of the White Guard emigration that can believe in the possibility of such an absurdity or can seek to make a threat out of it. The attack against the East can take place only on condition of the support of one or several powerful states of the West. This variant is, at all events, the more likely one. But here too the preparatory period will not be measured by weeks or by months.
The four power pact, deciding nothing fundamental in advance, can only organize the mutual contact of the largest states of western Europe. It is a guarantee against hazards of a secondary order, but not against fundamental antagonisms. Hitler will strive to extract from the pact all the advantages for the attack against the East. The regulations of the pact predetermine no more than ten percent of its future destiny. Its real historical role will be determined by the actual relationships and the groupings of its participants, their allies, and their adversaries.
Hitler is prepared for the next ten years not to undertake any military actions against either France or Poland. In the declaration he fixed five years as the term during which genuine equality of rights for Germany in the matter of armed forces must be accomplished. These terms need not, of course, be invested with a sacred significance. But they outline the bounds in point of time within which the leading circles of Fascism confine their plans of revenge. Domestic difficulties, unemployment, the ruination and the distress of the petty bourgeoisie, may, of course, push Hitler to premature actions which he himself by a cool analysis would regard as harmful. In living politics one must base himself not only upon the plans of the opponent but also upon all the entanglements of the conditions in which he is placed. The historical development of Europe will not meekly obey the order of march worked out in the Brown House of Munich. But this order of march, after the seizure of power by Hitler, has become one of the greatest factors in European development. The plan will be altered in conformity with events. But one cannot understand the alterations without having before him the plan in its entirety.
The author of these lines does not consider himself called upon to mount guard before the Versailles Treaty. Europe needs a new organization. But woe betide it if this work falls into the hands of Fascism. The historian of the twenty-first century will, in that case, inevitably have to write: The epoch of the decay of Europe began with the war of 1914. Called the “war of democracy,” it soon led to the domination of Fascism which became the instrument concentrating all the forces of the European nations towards the aim of “the war for liberation"…from the results of the preceding war. Thus, Fascism, as the expression of the blind alley of Europe, was at the same time the instrument of the destruction of its economic and cultural acquisitions. Let us hope, however, that this old continent still has sufficient vital strength left to open up to itself a different historical road.
AMERICAN PACIFICISM Red, Yellow and White
By Vera Buch
Pacifism of all stripes (including the Communist), flourished in this land of the most powerful capitalist nation, which the geographic and political isolation of many generations, as well as the prevalence of democratic illusions of all sorts has made a fertile soil for the growth of pacifist ideology. We set aside for the moment that official pacifism of phrases which always accompanies the war preparations of the capitalist robber bands. We wish to deal here with the organizations whose avowed purpose is peace and the abolition of war, and with the pacifist programs of political organizations which have an influence on the working class.
The Liberal-Socialist group around the magazine World Tomorrow is one of the most influential. Here are the liberal preachers and ex-preachers who dabble in the labor movement between articles and sermons, all exponents of that vague, “undogmatic,” “liberal” variation of religion which differs only in form from the orthodox type.
With Norman Thomas as its founder and guiding spirit, World Tomorrow includes on its staff such people as Reinhold Niebuhr, John Haynes Holmes, Kirby Page, William Pickens, and yes, none other than our old friend A. J. Muste, now leader of the one and only coming revolutionary party in the United States, the American Workers’ Party.
The pacifism of World Tomorrow ranges all the way from the tearfully sentimental to the “economic determination” variety which boldly declares trade routes and oil deposits to be the causes of all wars. Listen to this effusion from the pen of John Haynes Holmes in World Tomorrow of Feb. 15, 1934: Revolution is not at hand, he claims, only unrest. “Which means that we have ample time for working out that program of peaceful and yet fundamental change which may bring to us all the fruits of revolution with none of its violence and horror. This is the mission, the unique and noble mission, of the pacifist at this hour to do in this country what Mahatma Ghandi has done in his (--to reduce the American working class to the unspeakable level of living of the Indian masses, perhaps? We are getting there fast enough without the help of the American Mahatma Ghandis!-- V.B.) To take the genius of America, its traditions, institutions, and ideals and work out a policy of creative statesmanship which will repudiate all use of the weapons of force, avoid all hazard of bloodshed and death, and achieve none the less the farthest ends of economic justice and social brotherhood.” A stained glass window or two and the subdued peeling of a church organ are lacking to give the proper emotional setting for these noble cadences. Here is pacifism in its purest form, shrinking from all violence and use of force (except when the ruling class of the country proclaims war, when war becomes respectable, whereupon the preachers sing a very different tune).
This is the philosophy of the petty-bourgeois intellectual, living in the sheltered twilight of the study and pulpit. The worker, buffeted by the forces of capitalism from the factory, the breadline and flop house into the trenches, is forced by the conditions of his life as an individual as well as by his class role in the overthrow of capitalism to see the use of violence as a necessary condition of life. The workers’ guide on this question is “For whose benefit and by whom is the force used?”
“Pacifism is the cause supreme” continues John Haynes Holmes, “for all else is won if this be won, and all else is lost if this be lost. This is the reason for pacifism, and the reason why I had rather die for this cause than live for any other.” The only unfortunate thing is that the John Haynes Holmes will not die in the coming world war; it is the workers who permit themselves to be befuddled by these pacifist dreams who will pay the bloody price on the battle field.
Norman Thomas, more to the left, in appearance, proposes tariff revision, currency stabilization, “stead fast opposition to war,” “a well-thought out general conference for loosening the grip of imperialism in the Far East,” --even the general strike. (Of this we will have more to say later.) “The inescapable truth is” he concludes (see article in World Tomorrow. Oct. 26th, 1933) “that there can be no secure peace until we have substituted the ideals and practices of cooperation for the rampant nationalism and the economic exploitation which are in their very nature at war with that harmony of nations, races and economic groups in which alone there is reasonable expectation of lasting peace.” Basically there is nothing different here from the rose-colored hysteria of the John Haynes Holmes type. Vague phrases of “cooperation” take the place of scientific analysis of the causes of war and the program with which the workers must fight imperialist war.
The preachers predominate in another well-known liberal-socialist pacifist group. The Fellowship of Reconciliation. This organization recently sent out a questionaire to its 7500 members, dealing with their views on economics and politics, and especially with their attitude towards the use of force by the working class in the furtherance of its interests. A militant minority of 12% was revealed which sanctioned the use of armed force in behalf of or by the working class in the solution of its problems. The majority favored identification of the F.O.R. with the cause of the working class, but opposed the use of violence.
The role of the orthodox church of all denominations in the war question is worthy of a study in itself. In time of peace, the church through its multiform avenues of pulpit, press, religious, social and charitable organizations, emits a constant stream of pacifist propaganda, as numbing to the mind as is the incense from its altars to the senses. It thus functions in this respect also as one of the principal pillars of capitalist society, covering up the fierce preparations of the capitalist government for war just as in its whole teaching it hides the realities of the class struggle under the veil of Heaven and Hell. But when war breaks out, there is no more efficient agency than the church for the preparation of cannon fodder. For this function, how well it has prepared the workers beforehand with its philosophy of obedience to the will of God (that is, the capitalists), of “turning the other cheek” (that is, make no resistance to whatever God (the capitalists) may inflict since “the Lord loveth whom he chastiseth"). The role of the ministers in the last war is well brought out in a recent book “Preachers Present Arms” by Professor Ray Abramans. Here we see how quickly and how violently the peacetime cooing of the doves in the pulpits changed to the yapping of chauvinist war-jackals.
Catholic Action, one of the organs of Catholic thought in this country, in its March issue, contains a report ("International Economic Life") to the Ethics and Economics Committees of the Catholic Association for International Peace. The proposals of this report, which, it seems, are based upon Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical “Reconstructing the Social Order,” contain the following recommendation as a means of securing international peace: Councils of employers and of labor are to be set up to serve as administrators of industry. They are to be federated, yet autonomous bodies, but not independent, rather under the supervision of the government. The National Councils are to cooperate on an international scale. But what is this if not a program of international fascism! The true nature of the Church’s pacifism could not be more clearly exposed.
In the left wing of the liberal pacifists is to be found the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, an international grouping with headquarters at Geneva, publishing the Pax International. The United States branches are active in educational and propaganda work. Social workers such as Jane Adams, teachers and society women are prominent in its ranks. With its talk of “economic imperialism,” of colonies, trade-routes and markets, this grouping makes an attempt at pseudoscientific analysis. The program of the W.I.L.P.F.. is as follows: 1. Universal disarmament. 2. Solution of conflicts by a) Recognition of human solidarity, b) Conciliation and arbitration, c) World cooperation and world organization. 3. “To establish social, political and economic justice for all, without distinction of sex, race, class or creed.” 4. To oppose every kind of war, exploitation and oppression.
It supports of course, the Kellogg “Peace” Pact, the League of Nations, and is against compulsory military training in schools and colleges. Education is the chief method to be relied upon. The idea is to instill in people’s minds a hatred of war, so that pacifism will find more supporters. How is this idea to be implanted? For example, the good ladies of the Women’s International League arranged a children’s parade. It had to be a substitute for a parade of soldiers, to give some positive peace idea instead of the dreadful war idea behind the soldiers. So they decided to make it a parade of dolls of all nations, the children to be dressed up in the costumes of different lands. So, Sally or Janie, growing up, would always remember that once they had been Japanese or Austrian dolls, and after that they could never, of course, conceive of fighting the people of those nations. We can imagine what a formidable barrier to war would be erected by such means.
A much larger women’s pacifist grouping including a membership of millions, is the Conference for the Cause and Cure of War, organized in 1925 and holding annual meetings in Washington. The leadership of this group is of a thoroughly bourgeois character, yet in its affiliated bodies it takes in the broadest sections of women including even the workers. It comprises such national bodies as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the National League of Women Voters, the National Women’s Trade Union League, the National Board of the Y.W.C.A., and others. This conference appears to be the peace-time continuation of a patriotic network of conferences of women’s organizations, organized during the last world war under the direct supervision and control of the Federal Government, which had a record of remarkable service to imperialism in mobilizing the women of the country for patriotic duty. The counterpart of this grouping is the Women’s Patriotic Conference, taking in the ultra-conservative and jingoistic organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Ladies’ Auxiliaries of the general patriotic groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the G.A.R., the National Society of Founders and Patriots, and others. The difference, fundamentally, between these two groups is after all not so great, but their basic identity would appear more easily in war than in peacetime.
We have far from exhausted the list of pacifist organizations, but to describe them further would bring out nothing new in principle. We might mention, among the others, the American Peace Society, founded in 1828, and publishing World Affairs, the Foreign Policy Association, the Committee on Militarism in Education, the World Peace Foundation, the War Resister’s League, etc. Let us summarize some of the main ideas of pacifism, which appear singly or in combination in all of the groups we have mentioned.
The Main Ideas Of Pacifism
1. A complete lack of understanding of the class struggle, and hence of the true character of bourgeois society makes impossible to the pacifists an understanding of the nature of imperialist war and of the possibilities for abolishing it. Only the Communists have the basis for making such an analysis, which hinges entirely upon the class struggle.
2. From the above basic error flows the idea of fighting “war in general,” of “opposition to all wars,” as well as the idea of all classes uniting to fight war. The pacifists are unable to distinguish between imperialist wars between capitalist nations and wars which the proletariat conducts for its liberation (civil war within the capitalist country, colonial wars of liberation, wars of a Workers State against capitalist countries.) Hence one can hardly expect them to see what only the Communists can point out, namely the necessity for the proletariat to support those wars which are in the interests of the proletariat (to support the Chinese against the Japanese and other imperialist powers, to defend the Soviet Union against imperialist attack, to defend the Cuban Revolution, etc., to support any proletarian revolution, etc.) For them no power at war is to be supported; all are equally to be denounced.
3. The opposition to “all wars” is lined up with the petty ,bourgeois shrinking from the use of force and violence “in general.” What is expressed in this pure pacifist attitude is the class position of the petty bourgeoisie, playing no independent role in production and consequently in the class struggle, by its way of living not directly connected with the violent conflicts between capital and labor. Needless to say, objectively such a position materially aids the position of the bourgeoisie—which by no means shrinks from force and violence—by weakening the will of the working class to fight on its own behalf. The proletarian can only energetically repudiate these petty-bourgeois dreams in whatever form they occur.
4. The idea that war is caused by ideas of various sorts, and that other ideas, instilled into the population by education, will become the remedies and cures for war. Such a conception can fit very well into the minds of Socialists who advocate the change of society by means of the ballot. Hatred and fear are supposed to be the cause of war. The good and beautiful ideas of love of peace and the brotherhood of man represented in the “cooperative commonwealth” will have to supplant these “bad” ideas. Education will do the trick. These conceptions have the same basic falseness as the reliance upon education (in the face of the almost complete control of education by the capitalist forces) of the workers to legislate in socialism.
5. “Non-resistance,” or “passive resistance” to war is the prime point in some pacifist programs, as for example of the War Resister’s League. “The method of war resistance…” they say “Is the continuous organization of men and women for the refusal to all support of war whether by bearing arms, subscribing to war funds, or performing noncombattant service as an aid to winning the war. Its power will grow in direct ratio to the number enrolled for this refusal, a number small now while the movement counts thousands rather than millions, but greater with every man or woman who enrolls… . It is the deliberate refusal of this popular support that will be able to put force behind international treaties and eventually abolish war and armament, and the War Resisters International is already in a position to prevent at least the giving of 100% support.”
Let us suppose for a moment the success of this program, namely the winning of a large body of people to resist war by refusing to fight or help in any way (an impossible situation, however). Either the resisters will be quietly stowed away in prison and the war carried on without them, or (if the resistance movement is great enough) troops will be brought out against them. The resisters would then face the alternative of being shot down in cold blood, or they would have to take up arms themselves to resist their own shooting. The latter course could be followed only if the resisters were organized and prepared to develop a civil war for the freeing of the prospective cannon fodder (the workers and poor farmers) by the overthrow of the capitalist government. In neither case would they have succeeded in ending war, but in the latter alternative they would at least be taking the first step in the direction of abolition of war, namely in the setting up of a proletarian dictatorship which will pave the way for a classless society in which alone there is hope of ending war. The correct counter-proposal to “non-resistance” is for the conscious Communist workers to join the army, there to agitate and pave the way for the soldiers to support the proletarian revolution when the time is ripe for it.
6. Disarmament as the cure for war is the common plank in all the pacifist platforms (red as well as yellow, as we shall later see). Here again, the failure to understand the class struggle results in the putting of the cart before the horse, seeing armament as the cause rather than the result of the forces making for war. The workers cannot be for general disarmament, which always leaves a sufficient armed force at the disposal of the capitalist governments to crush any working class revolt. The workers must fight for the armament and training in the use of arms by the working class, since only by armed force will they be able to overthrow the bourgeois power and crush the counter-revolution. Hence the demand for a Workers Militia in countries where the situation is ripe enough to warrant it. Hence the need of the Communists working within such organizations as the National Guard and the C.M.T.C. (at the same time that we denounce these groupings as anti-working class tools for the bourgeois to crush the workers in strikes and demonstrations).
7. A seemingly radical pacifist proposal is the general strike against war. Just why is this a futile utopian rather than a correct, realistic method? In the first place, the time set for the general strike (the outbreak of the imperialist war) is the one most favorable for the winning over of the whole population (including even the advanced working class sections) to the support of the war, due to the enormous pressure of all the means brought or bear to stir up patriotic fervor and sacrifice. It is only later as the sufferings of the war accumulate that the opposition to the war gains ground and gives the Communists a base for preparing the insurrection, paving the way in the army as well as among the civilian population to “turn imperialist war into civil war.”
The slogan of “general strike” to end war, popular among the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist elements, has in this situation the same futility as when it becomes the one and only panacea to end capitalist, to make the revolution. Unaccompanied by a complete, well-rounded program, the “general strike” is this sense can only become general chaos in the workers movement, can only fritter out their energies futiley. This is of course, not to deny the vital part played by the general strike as the initial stage of the proletarian revolution, of the general strike of limited duration to achieve political ends and to pave the way for the working class to revolution.
We have gone fully into the analysis of the pacifist ideology in order sharply to bring out the “red” pacifism with which the revolutionary movement in this country is rampant. The source of the poison is the degeneration of the Soviet Union with its reliance upon nonaggression pacts and Roosevelt recognitions to stave off imperialist attack. Litvinoff’s speech at the Geneva 1931 “Disarmament” Conference which called for complete general disarmament as the “only cure for war” has become the classic theory of the Stalinists on the war question. The liberal-pacifism of writers, artists, and free-lance intellectuals has been permitted to dominate the anti-war movement.
But we must signalyze as even more dangerous the ideas of the war question of the American Workers Party (more dangerous because this grouping is a shade closer and is even now negotiating for unity with the Left Opposition, which has not as yet openly criticized its pacifist confusion). Says the program of the American Workers Party:
“The duty of the A.W.P. toward war is clear. It will struggle on every front against war. It will unite in this struggle with every group honestly opposed to war, however different their aims on other questions. It will help workers organize to stop the shipment of munitions to warring countries. It will make clear by education and propaganda the causes of imperialist wars, and it will support the struggles of subject nations against the capitalist powers, since these struggles are implicity directed against capitalism.
“If a general war does occur during period of the decline of capitalism the workers and producers of the world will be confronted with perhaps the most momentous issue of history. The next great war, utilizing methods of warfare already developed, threatens to be so devastating as to destroy civilization itself. In such a case, the revolutionary parties of the world must act together to prevent, by every possible means, of mass action strikes sabotage and agitation, the prosecution of the war. And if these means, too, fail, then the revolutionary parties must work at once to show the workers and producers how to turn the imperialist war into a war for the liberation of society and the achievement of the new order.”
This statement says plainly that the American Workers Party will “struggle on every front against war,” It fails to make clear the basic distinction between the different types of wars, and even though it states it “will support the struggles of subject nations against the capitalist powers” it fails to clarify the most important distinction of all, namely the civil war of the proletariat against bourgeoisie, as well as wars prosecuted by a Workers State in defense against the imperialist powers. It states, the revolutionary parties must act together to prevent war, by means of mass action, strikes, etc. If these means fail, they will think of turning the imperialist war into a war for the liberation of society. Setting aside the somewhat vague formulation of the last statement, it is very plain the formulators of this program have illusions that they will be able to prevent imperialist war by the very means advocated by certain sections of the pacifists. Although in appearance this whole statement on the war question resembles a Communist one, nevertheless, due to these gaps and vague formulations on the most essential points, they fail completely to separate themselves from the pacifist positions in which they have hitherto been involved. We cease to wonder now why we find the name of A. J. Muste on the editorial staff of the Socialist World Tomorrow. It is simple, after all, he belongs there.
The confusion and the rank pacifism that crops up on every side in the revolutionary ranks is simply one symptom of the fact that we have not yet a real communist movement. For the Fourth International to be based up elements tinged with pacifism would be truly a disaster. The struggle for clarity on the war question must be one of the cardinal points in building up the new international here as well as in all other countries.
THE YOUTH CONFERENCE OF THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL by Fred Browner
In Laren, a small village near Amsterdam, there gathered together on Feb. 24th, over thirty delegates (The U. S. had two delegates; one from the Communist League of Struggle, and one from the American League) representing revolutionary Socialist and Communist organizations in Europe and America. The conference had been called by the Independent Socialist Party of Holland.
Two and half hours after the conference convened, at nine-thirty in the evening, while the delegates were yet discussing the agenda, the doors suddenly opened and the Dutch police came in shouting: “Passencontrale!”
All the foreign delegates (nineteen in number) were arrested and taken to the prison at Laren. There their passports were taken away, and the delegates were thoroughly searched. Meanwhile the Laren police communicated with the police at Amsterdam and it was decided to take the bulk of the delegates to the central jail at Amsterdam. Only four of the German delegates were kept in the Laren prison.
In the Central Police Station at Amsterdam, the delegates were searched, questioned, and fingerprinted. Everything was taken away, including belts, ties and handkerchiefs (fearing we might become desperate and hang ourselves in our cells). Here, however, the delegates had the opportunity to hold a few short meetings, and to prepare for a possible continuation of the conference, after our deportation.
On Monday, Feb. 26th, the delegates in the Amsterdam prison were transferred to the police station at Roosendaal, a town near the frontier, where the delegates were again fingerprinted and that evening, at intervals, put across the border into Belgium. Most of the delegates went to Brussels, two of them to Antwerp. There all established connections and were able to come together two days later, at Lille, to proceed with the conference.
At Lille the delegates learned that in spite of the promises of the Dutch Government, and the protests of Comrade Sneevliet, a member of the Dutch parliament for the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the FOUR GERMAN DELEGATES, who were kept at Laren, were HANDED OVER TO HITLER’S FASCIST POLICE, the day immediately following their arrests. THIS, LIKE THE RAID OF THE CONFERENCE, WAS BY THE DIRECT ORDERS OF THE PREMIER COLIJN, AND THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE. The German delegates were: for the Socialist Youth Association of Germany (S. A. P.), Kurt Liebermann, Frank Bobzien, and Hans Goldstein; and for the German section of the International Communist League, Heinz Hose.
Holland—the most “democratic” country in the world, the haven for all the political refugees, the country always boasting of her neutrality, “unaffected by outside influences,” the country where the Kaiser, murderer of millions of proletarians readily finds shelter, this most democratic country without hesitation raids a youth conference, arrests and deports the delegates, four to Germany, where imprisonment and even death awaits them. Is this not typical of bourgeois “democracy”, in both its internal and external policies? Cannot we also use Holland as a thermometer? Does it not show the tenseness of the situation in which capitalism finds itself today, and the pressure of the large nations on the smaller? As a Dutch police official said to our delegate: “Since Hitler has come to power, things look very very bad for Holland.”
The Conference Proceeds
On Feb. 28th, the conference convened once again. This time it was held under the auspices of the Internationalist Communist League, and the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany.
The organizations present were the Secretariat of the Youth Section of the I. C. L. representing the sections without delegates; those sections represented by delegates were the French, Belgium, German and American. The other organizations were the Youth Section of the Communist League of Struggle (U.S.A.), the Socialist Youth Association of Germany (S.A.P.), the Workers Youth Association of Norway, the Mot Dag Group of Norway, the Revolutionary Youth Association of Holland (R.S.P.) the Socialist Youth Association of Holland (O.S.P.). By the transfer of mandates the P. U. P. (Party of Proletarian Unity) of France and the Roumanian Association of Socialist Youth were represented. The delegates of the Independent Communist Youth of Sweden were refused entrance into Holland, in the first place, and they transferred their mandate to the Mot Dag Group.
When the conference convened at Lille, it was found that in spite of the smaller number of delegates, all the organizations which were represented in Holland were represented at Lille, but some organizations which had been represented by as many as four delegates had now only one or two. (The S.A.P. which originally had four delegates, now had one; similarly the O.S.P. and the R.S.P. were reduced).
The evening before the conference opened at Lille, a preliminary session was held where the agenda was taken up and the necessity for getting as much done in as little time as possible was pointed out. Here too, the delegates were forced to be wary of the police.
The conference opened with the reports of the delegates on the strength and the activities of their organizations. All the organizations took for granted the adherence of the organizations present to the basic principals of Communism. (Dictatorship of the proletariat, armed insurrection, etc). The major differences and discussion took place regarding the line and policy to be pursued toward the formation of a Fourth International. In the process of the discussion it was quite clear that the differences were those between a Communist organization and Centrist ones, members of the London Bureau.
The proposals of the I.C.L. were clear. We must, on the basis of the collapse of the Second and Stalinist Internationals, openly proclaim the necessity for the formation of a new international and begin at once to prepare for it. The Socialist Youth Association (SAP) took a typically Centrist position. They declared that while the necessity for a new international and youth international was apparent, at the same time that was not the primary question. We must first win over the masses of workers and youth. Only after such an event would the time be ripe for the declaration and the real steps toward the formation of a new international and youth international. These were the proposals (SAP): That their thesis omitting any mention of the necessity for a new international, be accepted; that a bureau and a secretariat be elected, to be located at Stockholm, whose tasks were to be the winning over of the masses of workers and the youth to the principals contained in the thesis. And, (as a concession to the I.C.L.), that an additional resolution be passed calling for a new international and that another bureau be placed at Paris to work for new international.
These proposals were entirely unacceptable to the I.C.L. To separate these two phases of activity, so clearly intertwined, was impossible. The only result would be the sabotage and the absolute failure of the work; particularly at this time, when we must go full speed ahead to the formation of a NEW INTERNATIONAL, as the only instrument which may yet save the day for the proletariat and throw back the advancing hordes of Fascism. Every moment’s delay is that much loss of blood for the proletariat. We declared that we must come out now with one thesis calling for a new international, and with one bureau to co-ordinate the work.
The discussion which followed was long and intense. The delegate from the SJV (SAP) finally proposed that they put into their thesis the necessity for a new international and youth international, and to elect one bureau with the secretariat at Stockholm; which would carry out the thesis and the decisions of the conference. Since the thesis of the SAP was otherwise generously correct in its estimation of the world situation and of the reformist and the Stalinist Internationals, the C.L. found this acceptable. All the organizations agreed except the Norwegian Workers’ Party. It now remained for the organizations present to vote upon the issue and the basis for further cooperation by the organizations was now laid.
The conference decided that the bureau should consist of one member for each organization adhering to the conference, however the I.C.L. was to have three members because of its international character. There is also to be a Secretariat of three members. One representing the Internationalist Communist League; one the Socialist Youth Association of Germany (SAP), and one the Independent Communist Youth of Sweden, with the center at Stockholm. It was further decided to invite all independent revolutionary youth organizations, and those youth organizations within the Second and Third Internationals, who show tendencies in our direction, to accept the decisions of our conference and to attend those held in the future.
Thus the conference has taken the first and very necessary step forward to laying the foundation of a new and Revolutionary Youth International to replace the decadent and sterile reformist and Stalinist “Internationals".
While the new international has not yet been formed, nor had we the illusions that this conference would result in immediate formation of such a new international, the first step has been built. Although we had prepared to take up a thesis on Fascism and War, due to the difficulties in holding the conference and the interference by the Dutch police, we were compelled to pass this by.
Now is the time for the immediate carrying out of decisions and manifesto of the conference, for the ideological and physical preparation for the formation of a real Revolutionary International of Youth, and, in America, of a real Communist Party and Young Communist League. The Internationalist Communists must lead the way. With common perspective, they must struggle hand in hand for the proletarian revolution, and for communism.
Editorial Note: Immediately upon learning of the arrest of the youth delegates in Holland, the Communist League of Struggle sent one of its members to the office of the American League to offer a united front in defense of the arrested youths. We were given the answer there was not much to be done, lawyers had been hired, and we would be notified if there were further developments. Now it appears the American League together with the American Workers Party is starting a defense movement for the German delegates who have been deported back to Hitler’s Germany where beyond a doubt either execution or permanent imprisonment await them. The Communist League of Struggle has not been invited to this conference, and in spite of its offers of participation, has been refused admittance! Other organizations have expressed their willingness to have us admitted; it is very evident this is the latest attempt on the part of the Cannon-Schachtman leadership to isolate the Communist League of Struggle. Their actions are all the more contemptible since our delegates is a member of the International Bureau, and he is in fact, the only person in New York at the present time (where the conference is to be held) who attended the Youth Conference in Holland, who was arrested there and deported! We will protest these opportunist tactics of excluding us to the last ditch.
Manifesto: TO THE WORKING YOUTH OF ALL COUNTRIES
A conference of representatives of independent proletarian youth organizations was called for February 24th to 26th at Laren, in Holland. The object of this Conference was to draw the lessons of the catastrophe in the German labor movement, of the crisis of the international labor movement, and, particularly, the proletarian youth movement.
Unemployment and super-exploitation—evils which at the same time are contradictory and supplementary—both are the consequences of the terrible world economic crisis which effects especially the proletarian youth.
This youth, however, has not reacted to the blows of capitalism by revolutionary means. On the contrary, The crudest form of capitalist oppression, Fascism, threatens to attract to itself a great part of the youth and to submit them to two dangers, heightened exploitation and imperialist wars. The two international organizations claiming to represent the interests of working class youth, the Young Socialists and the Young Communist International (Y.C.I.) are faced by these forces and these dangers. Their dependence on reformism and Stalinism has condemned these two organizations to impotence.
It was to find a way out of this situation, and to prepare and organize the consolidation of all revolutionary forces of the international proletarian youth that there assembled the representatives of independent revolutionary youth organizations and groups of Holland, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Roumania, Greece, Spain, United States and Australia.
But the Dutch bourgeoisie, reputed to be one of the most liberal on the Continent, is so afraid of the revival of the proletarian youth movement that, on the very first day of the Conference, it brought about the arrest of all the foreign participants and, after two days of imprisonment, expelled them. Four German anti-Fascists were carried to the German frontier and given up to the mercies of the paid butchers of Hitler.
Deeply conscious of the enormous importance for the world proletarian youth of the holding of this Conference, the representatives of various organizations and countries participating reassembled in Luxemburg in order to continue the Conference.
The present Conference calls upon the working-class youth of the world to support its protest against the actions of the Dutch bourgeoisie.
Furthermore, the Conference declares that no step, however reactionary, whether taken by the bourgeoisie of Holland or any other country, can prevent it from carrying out its international tasks. And it addresses the following call to the world working class youth: Beware of the danger of Fascism!
Fight its abominable demagogy, and understand its real role as the mercenary hangman of capitalism!
Fascism destroys both the organizations and the social and political rights of the working class. It submits the working class, and especially the youth, to working and living conditions like those of ancient slavery. Fascism intensifies to a high degree the contradictions of the capitalist system and makes possible at any time terrible explosions, destructive wars over whole continents.
It is necessary to see the whole extent of the danger. It is necessary to begin the struggle against these dangers on every sector, and on the basis of the broadest united front.
The undersigned organizations represented at the Conference of Luxemburg therefore propose to all organizations of working class youth, a campaign for:
1. The most relentless ideological and physical struggle against Fascism.
2. Against war, against chauvinist and militarist propaganda, against the militarization of the youth.
3. For the defense of democratic rights of the proletariat and its organizations.
4. For reductions in the working hours of proletarian youth without wage cuts.
5. Against forced labor of youth.
6. For the defense of the U.S.S.R. as the workers’ state.
(Signed): Union of Young Socialists of Holland. Revolutionary Youth Union of Holland. Young Socialist Union of Germany. Young Workers Union of Norway. Youth Group of the Communist League of Struggle (U.S.A.). Bolshevik-Leninist Youth (International Communist League): International Communist Youth of Germany; Young Leninists of France; Young Bolshevik-Leninists of Belgium; Spartacus Youth (U.S.A. and Canada); Marxist Youth Action (Switzerland), Young Bolshevik-Leninists of Greece, Spain, Czechoslovakia, and Australia. Mot Dag Group (Norway). Federation of Young Communists of Sweden. Federation of Young Socialists of Roumania. Unitary Federation of Young Workers of France.
PSEUDO—COMMUNIST INTELLECTUALS (I) By Albert Weisbord
A new party is rising upon the horizon. It is called the “American Workers Party.” Formerly it was based upon “Brookwood College.” Later it gave up the idea of education and became an “Action Group” the Conference for Progressive Labor Action.” Now it is branching out boldly and becoming the American Workers Party. It is neither openly Socialist, nor is it Communist. Yesterday it felt itself close to the socialists and the bureaucrats of the A. F. of L., today it uses more radical phrases and believes it is closer to communism.
Due to the fatal errors of the Socialist and Communist Parties, the American Workers Party believes it can grow. All sorts of people have clustered around it. It has become a half-way station for trains going both to the left and to the right. We have read with interest that such brilliant revolutionaries as Max Eastman, Sidney Hook, V. F. Calverton and others of the same tested Marxian ability have gathered around this heterogeneous conglomeration hoping to become its “Brain Trust” and it is these gentlemen and others of the same type with whom we would like to treat in our present series of articles.
It is very significant that these “intellectuals” have decided to join any party at all. Only yesterday they were gamboling free and footloose, down the green of The Village, masturbating their talents on such questions as Sex, Psycho-neurosis, and Literature, with a capital L. They could earn a living during times of prosperity. But now times are not so good. Audiences are rather fickle. The workers are growing mature and are getting sick of Hobohemia and Greenwich Vagabondia. These people now are willing to be “party members” they are willing to “think” about discipline and collective action. The American Workers Party offers them just the right opportunity. A minimum of discipline, a minimum of clarity, free play for all vagaries, this pseudo-communist party is the best place for the pseudo-communist intellectual.
Let us turn, first of all, to Mr. Eastman, Poet, Politician, and Philosopher, patented originator of the magazine of the “The New Masses” type. Before the war Mr. Eastman was a plain bourgeois liberal, Secretary of the Men’s League for Women Suffrage. The American Flag flying on the cover of his first pamphlet “Women Suffrage and Sentiment” advertised to the world the genesis of the revolutionary views of the writer. These views were best expressed by Eastman in his pamphlet “Value of the Vote” (1912) from which I quote:
“I have just attended the organization meeting of a new chapter of the Men’s League for Women Suffrage in a middle Western State. A leading capitalist of that state is the president and a leading socialist is one of the vice-presidents of the organization—a fact which reminds us that the importance of women suffrage lies deeper than any special program of reform or the platform of any political party.” “I want to say that I, for one, have an ardent faith in political democracy.”
It is at this stage of his life that Eastman blossomed forth as a poet, and whether we turn to his poetry or to his theory of poetry, whether in 1913 or 1931, we find nothing but sexual banalities covered with Liberal phrases. In his book “Enjoyment of Poetry (1913), there is not the slightest connection made between poetry and its enjoyment and the social milieu of the various classes who are to read it. As Eastman expressed the matter in his “Colors of Life” (1918): The world’s struggle “has always occupied my thoughts and often my energies and yet I have never identified myself with it or found my undivided being there… . Life is older than liberty. It is greater than revolution. It burns in both camps. And life is what I love.” It is with this philosophy that Eastman could peddle such poems as “To the Little Bed at Night” and such tripe as “A hut and a tree, and a hill for me, and a piece of a weedy meadow. I’ll ask nothing of God or King but to clear away his shadow”, all to be found in his book “Child of the Amazons” (1918).
And this is in 1918, when already Eastman is coming out as the great revolutionary of all times. One might think that the wars, the revolutions, the class struggles, might have upset him at least a trifle. But no, even in 1921, in “Kinds of Love” we see the same incorrigible sex dilletante. Here we find poems dedicated to Lenin, side by side with poems to a prostitute, to an actress, to a virgin and to what not. It is when he deals with sex description that his greatest poems are conceived. From women’s suffrage to women’s breasts, the connection seems easy for Eastman.
Max Eastman’s War Record
In the midst of all this artistic playfulness came the war. The time for gamboling was over. The grin State at war took notice of the magazine the “Masses” which was expressing itself freely upon terrible blood bath engulfing the world. The U. S. Government reminded itself that Eastman had said “I like to meddle and tinker… I belong to that disreputable class damned by Tacitus … as ‘desiring revolution for its own sake’ “ (See his “Journalism versus Art") and began to call this meddler to a halt. Articles had appeared in the “Masses” by John Reed and others which the government felt was impeding the conduct of the war. Max Eastman was arrested. Here was a chance for a revolutionary. In thousands and thousands of copies there was issued “Max Eastman’s Address to the jury in the Second Masses Trial—in defence of the Socialist Position and the Right of Free Speech.”
As we re-read this pamphlet a great feeling of nausea and disgust overcomes us. We can hardly believe that any person would dare to have the audacity to found his revolutionary beliefs on such an outrageous statement as that given by Eastman. Eastman came out of his first and only test a snivelling capitulator and war peddling liberal. Eastman declares, in this speech, that there was no attempt to obstruct recruiting or enlistment or promote mutiny or refusal of duty in the army, on his part. When asked how about the various articles in the “Masses” which appeared to be against the conduct of the war, Max Eastman replied that he personally was not responsible for these articles. The paper, he stated, had no policy. “Our policy was to do as we pleased.” “We never adopted any policy toward anything. We simply continued to express, each in his own chosen way, his own opinion and emotion about the policies of our government.” How perfectly characteristic of this Greenwich ViIlage Revolutionist. “Our policy was to do as we pleased.”
Nevertheless, the court insisted, although the Masses had no policy, maybe this sterling revolutionist, Max Eastman, would tell the court his own opinions about the war. Yes, Eastman would. He wanted to emphasize that his opinions were the same as those of Albert Thomas, Minister of Munitions in the French Cabinet, Arthur Henderson, Emile Vandervelde, and other “revolutionary socialists” who, however, were conducting the war. He, Eastman, was violently against the articles written by John Reed opposed to the war. Eastman was for carrying on the war. “We never desired the defeat of this country or its failure in the war at any time. We never—most of us—even desired a separate peace.” “Although I was not FOR any war, I was not for WITHDRAWING from the war…. I was not for the DEFEAT of this country.” Not even for a separate peace, not even for withdrawal by the U. S. from the war! There is a great revolutionist for you, indeed worthy of the American Workers’ Party.
After the war, and with the developing of a genuine Communist International, the esthete Max Eastman soon found the revolutionary movement too hot for him. What happened to John Reed must never happen to Max Eastman. He betook himself again “To his little bed at night” and this time came forth in 1921 with a book on “The Sense of Humor” (no joke!) One can see from this that Eastman is a true philosopher. He can keep his sense of humor even in times of revolution.
It is in 1924 that Eastman “returns” to the revolutionary movement, this time as a “sympathizer” of Leon Trotsky. But on what ground was Eastman “sympathetic” to Trotsky? Certainly not because Trotsky was a Marxist, because by this time Eastman was an open enemy of Marxism, but because Trotsky was a Leninist and Eastman believed that Lenin was in reality opposed to Marx! Then there were “literary ties” that bound him to Trotsky it seemed. Altogether this sympathy was much wasted, for after Eastman’s book “Since Lenin Died” Trotsky himself had to declare Eastman was no political friend of his.
It is here highly instructive to note the difference between Comrade Trotsky and the American League. It was never the American League that took exception to Eastman, that attacked Eastman and exposed his liberal rubbish and anti-Marxian views. It had to be Trotsky, all the way from Turkey, who had to do the repudiation. Eastman, you see, could be “used” by the Cannon-Schachtman leadership and how can you attack a “friend"? It is not in place to elaborate here the crass opportunism that such an attitude displays. Instead of ideological intransigeance—vulgar “non-aggression” agreements; instead of the American League attacking American opportunists, the repetition of Trotsky’s thoughts on China, Russia, and such “international” questions. By international questions, the American League means precisely just such questions which will not expose their opportunism in the every day questions of real life.
Eastman is now an anti Marxist. Not that he had ever been a Marxist. We have seen his disgraceful exhibition before the court and his disappearance from the revolutionary movement in time of stress and storm. However, now things are safe again …. and Eastman reappears. This time it is a new book “Marx, Lenin, and the Science of Revolution” (1926) in which Eastman attacks Marxism.
In 1918 in his speech to the jury Eastman had said: “There is no part of socialism which opposes religion and there never has been and the assertion that there is or that there ever has been is merely one of the malicious lies which those who are trying to promote a propaganda against us have induced in.” And he mentioned Bishop Spalding, Bishop Jones, and such, as proof of this, for these people were good socialists. In 1924 he had written “Marx proposed to replace all evangels with a science of historic engineering… Instead of an evangelist you must be a technician; instead of a politician, a scientist; instead of a hot and windy preacher, a cool and practical engineer.” But by 1926 he was writing “Marxism was a step from utopian socialism to a socialist religion … a scheme for convincing the believer that the universe itself is producing a better society and that he was only to fall in properly with the general movement of this universe". So now Eastman was a fighter against religion, only this time it was the religion of materialism, Marx’s and Engels’ religion.
One must not suppose that Eastman really was anti religious. Your Greenwich Villager never is. For these intensely individualistic people, their religion is themselves in the most narrow, most philistine sense of the term. And as they become “Intellectual” they see this all the more clearly. Eastman’s fight against materialism was that of an “affirmative sceptic” and to a sceptic nothing really exists except himself and he himself becomes the embodiment of the purest zero. Just as Eastman’s philosopher was Hume, so his political leaders became the Anarchists. To Eastman, “Marx’s Capital” combines the principal vices of the classical German philosophy with the principal vices of the classical British Economy…. For it is not in its fundamental form and theoretic substance a scientific book.” Against this false Marxism there must be created a real science of revolution, which he, Eastman, would now bring forth, “In order to teach the science of revolution to a mind uncorrupted by metaphysics one should begin, it seems to me, with an outline of the idea of a true society, as it has been developed by the great utopians, all the way from Plato to Kropotkin". Kropotkin was far superior to Marx. Bakunin had a wise and correct instinct in his fight against Marx. Proudhon’s lack of knowledge was wiser than Marx’s knowledge. Here is how Eastman went back to his class position of petty bourgeois anarchism.
It would take hours to describe the muddle and chaotic confusion which is put down in the name of Science of Revolution by Eastman. All the enemies of Marx, are collected and all are approved by Eastman. Against Marx for Hume, for Bertrand Russell, for Seligman, for Einstein, for Bakunin, for Bernstein, for John Dewey and for the Technocrats ("of the left wing") here is the latest product of this poltroon in time of danger and great revolutionist in time of peace.
Schmalhausen, Calverton et al.
But Eastman is not the only member of the Modern Monthly group centered around V. F. Calverton which is gravitating towards the American Workers Party, and flirting with the American League. The second one of these sterling revolutionaries is Samuel D. Schmalhausen. Schmalhausen, as a school teacher, also had to face a trial during the war. And like Eastman, Schmalhausen made it very plain that he was not against the war, but merely for free criticism and that he should not be punished for allowing the pupils of his class the right to say what they pleased about the war. But during war when such large organizations as the Socialist Party and the I.W.W. were shamefully capitulating Schmalhausen’s stand, even for free speech, made him a well-known figure, which he later proceeded to capitalize. Schmalhausen became the “psychologist” specializing in sex-neuroses. We shall listen to “Dr.” Schmalhausen telling the proletariat what in hell is the matter with it.
Dr. Schmalhausen’s first essay was his book “Humanizing Education” (1926). He confessed to being somewhere in between the Communists and the Socialists. To him the great sources of inspiration were such people as John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Wm. James and other bourgeois thinkers. Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, Nikolai Lenin are all the same to him, they are all to be praised as “new statesmen". One must be critical, sceptical, that is, negative, that is the essence of education. It is, however, with his next book “Our Changing Human Nature” (1929) (very difficult to get in the library, showing how dangerous it is) that Schmalhausen really blossomed forth as the psychologist of the proletariat. Here are some of the most important truths which the American Workers Party, no doubt will find very handy in its revolutionary practice:
“The omnipresent question for thinking moderns is, I venture to suggest, this: Is the sex act merely sexual?” “As every analyst knows, as every parent grown wise in psychoanalytic lore will ere long likewise know, BEING HUMAN MEANS BEING SEXUAL.”
“The psychology of the orgasm is an undeveloped theme deserving profoundest consideration on the part of psychoanalysts.”
In his book (a symposium) “Our Neurotic Age” (1932) Schmalhausen calls for a “revolt of the virgins” (truly a fine book for the American Workers Party). We are born perverts, he says, born homosexuals. Abnormality is more basic than normal intercourse. “Nature permits everything: objects neither to incest nor homosexuality or playful perversions. ‘Nature’ is a good natured slob and laughs, like a happy negress at the joyously disreputable behavior of her thoughtless offspring". We are sure that the Negroes will appreciate this remark very keenly. It will help them to join in masses this new revolutionary movement under the leadership of Muste.
It will do us no good to speak of Schmalhausen’s other books “Why We Misbehave". (If you want to sell a book, get a snappy title) “Behold America” or “Woman’s Coming of Age” for it will be only ringing the changes on the same theme. Schmalhausen, Calverton, Eastman and the whole Modern Monthly crew, all of them declared that the revolutionists had “forgotten psychology.” With this all of these people attacked Marxism and materialism, and declared not from the German Marx but from the American John Dewey and from the eclectic and sceptical philosophy of pragmatism would come the emancipation of the international workingclass. All of these people, in spite of their phrases and illusions of sympathy to socialism or communism, stand essentially as liberals.
It is the same with Calverton, who, as editor of the Modem Monthly, was the source gathering all of this pus to a head. Like the others, Calverton too did not want an economic approach but a “psycho-sociological” approach. (If you are muddled, get a long word to get you out of the difficulty). See his book “Sex and Civilization” (1929), written with Schmalhausen, where he expounds this view point. Literature, that was the battle front where the doughty warrior Calverton would show the proletariat how to fight. The books rolled out thick and fast, “Sex Expression in Literature (1926), “New Ground of Criticism” (1930), “Anthology of American Negro Literature” (1929), “American Literature at the Cross Roads” (1931), “Liberation of American Literature,” etc. But what good were all these books? The political keynote of all of them could be expressed as social liberalism.
Take, for example, his statement on p. 17 of his “Anthology of American Negro Literature": “The American Negro, henceforth, through the establishment of the N.A.A.C.P. and other organizations would fight rather than surrender.” But the N.A.A.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is not an organization of fight, but a liberal organization to harness the Negro as the horse of capitalism. Does the American Workers Party which welcomes the Calvertons agree with this about the role of the liberal petty bourgeois Negro and the N.A.A.C.P. in particular? In what slightest respect have these people to do with the workingclass or with the communist groupings?
All these Modern Monthly people hate Marxism and Communism with all the fury their little bodies possess. From their earliest days they sought to revise Marx, to appear superior to a Trotsky. Take Vol. I. of the Modern Quarterly. There is there an article by Calverton: “Practical Metaphysics of Crime.” Here is its essence: Man is a mere puppet of external forces and the only adequate theory is that of fatalism. “To be a determinist is to be a fatalist! The economic determinism of Marx is, as far as it went, accurate but incomplete.” Calverton will make it complete. “Extinction is the end of all things we know.” Pessimism, there, fore, must be our philosophical attitude. “But the basis of pessimism is the basis of the world itself and the attempt to find an escape from it is as futile as the theologians’ attempt to end God.” Now Marxism is complete, that is, extinguished.
Or take Calvertons’ opinion of Trotsky (Vol. III, Modern Monthly, 1926-27) Trotsky is too impulsive to be a scientist, he is too practical to be a poet. He is but a super-journalist. Brilliant and dogmatic, acute and hasty, Trotsky although he has a wealth of erudition and sharp analysis, is without the patience of the scholar or the fastidious eclecticism of the philosopher. Bucharin has a deeper understanding in philosophy. He is perhaps more solid in judgement. But Trotsky has style. As for Trotsky’s book under review: Literature and Revolution, why that is nowhere near as good as what Calvertan can write. It abounds in extravagances and exaggerations, hasty judgments and dogmatisms that amuse rather than convince, for Trotsky is too arrogant!
Or take Schmalhousen writing in Volume IV under the heading of “These tragic Comedians” in which he speaks of the Communists as follows: “Rigidity, venemous dogmatism, merciless intolerance, hatred of psychologic insight, illiterate hostility to culture, benighted indifference to sex and human nature, these are not the moods and attitudes by which a new … order of society can be brought into existence in America". And again: “These little Marxians will not revolutionize the world… . These ruthless Ruthenbergs love hate too wholeheartedly to be trusted with the sane and scientific task of re-creating civilization.”
Or take Sidney Hook—but of Sidney Hook we shall have more later. What have we in common with these people? Certainly their place is in the same party as Muste, but have these people anything to do with the Fourth International? Is this the direction the advanced workers must take in learning the lessons from their defeats and in going beyond what has already been done? To take these people, these footloose adventurers as fit for a “brain trust” for any workers party is to have “trust” in brains, indeed.
We repeat these people are liberals. They at best can be fellow-travelers under conditions where the real internationalist communists the real Trotskyites if you please, must make a sharp and merciless criticism of all these fellow travelers, to expose them as trying to lead the workers backward and not forward.
One step forward two steps backward, that is the line of the Muste group, now the “American Workers Party.” Back to the 2 1/2 international not forward to the 4th international, that is the whole gist of Muste, Salutsky, Calverton, Hook and Co. Against this new centrist grouping we must carry on the sharpest political struggle. (To be continued)